American Heritage

Articles from Vol. 55, No. 1, February-March

1979 Three Mile Island
25 YEARS AGO AROUND 4:00 A.M. ON March 28, maintenance workers at the Three Mile Island nuclear-power plant, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, accidentally blocked the flow of water into the reactor core. This water acted as a coolant, absorbing the tremendous...
Anatomy of a Crisis: Forty Years Ago the USS Maddox Fought the First Battle of America's Longest War. How It Happened-And Even If It Happened-Are Still Fiercely Debated
FROM THE COMBAT INFORMATION CENTER (CIC) OF THE DEstroyer USS Maddox, Commodore John Herrick radioed: "Am being approached by high speed craft with apparent intention of torpedo attack. Intend open fire if necessary." America claimed the Tonkin Gulf...
At Home in Edenton: A Colonial Capital Remembered for Its Women
"HOW DID YOU HEAR about the Pilgrimage?" asked a volunteer at the Barker House when I showed up to buy a ticket. "Newspaper? Radio? We like to know what works." In fact it was an accident that brought me to town last April. A lull in science-fair projects...
Before & After: Cosmetic Surgery Was Born 2,500 Years Ago and Came of Age in the Inferno of the Western Front. the Controversy about It Is Still Growing
IN A MOVEABLE FEAST, ERNEST HEMINGWAY'S CELEBRATION of the long cocktail party that was Paris in the twenties, he pays tribute to the war veterans who frequented the Cafe Lilas and describes "the quality of their artificial eyes and the degree of skill...
"Cowboy"
WHEN, A LITTLE MORE THAN 30 YEARS AGO, THE Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci asked Henry Kissinger how he had attained "incredible superstar status," becoming "almost more famous and popular" than President Richard M. Nixon, Dr. Kissinger, then the...
George Washington Drank Here; the First President's Distillery Will Make Whiskey Once Again
ON THE BANKS OF THE DOGUE RUN CREEK IN FAIRFAX County, Virginia, one chilly October morning last year, two men in waistcoats turned their attention away from stirring a pasty sour mash in a hogshead--whose sweet, beery aroma attracted and then drowned...
Gods and Generals
THE VERY WORDS HISTORICAL AND FILM taken together suggest some kind of mildly patronizing qualification, like "military music" or "detective fiction." There aren't many definitions of a good film that one could apply to Gods and Generals; it is poorly...
Happy Hour at the Shack Up Inn: For Blues Lovers, an Authentic Sharecropper's Shack-With All the Modern Conveniences
ROBERT JOHNSON PLAYED HIS BLUES guitar so well that it was said he'd sold his soul to the devil. Maybe he had, but it's just as likely he learned his chops listening to other blues greats as they played on the front porches of their sharecropper shacks....
Lewis & Clark: Discovering Western America
Two hundred years ago, President Thomas Jefferson sent an expedition westward to find and map the area between the Missouri River and the Pacific Coast. The amazing effort, led by Army captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, is America's greatest...
Military Moves Prove Mighty over Time
Most of the U.S. military's major accomplishments have been publicly lauded, commemorated with events, books, films and TV shows, thereby educating each new generation. However, many substantial military facts have gone unrecognized. The following...
Old News
THE FATHER OF MY COLLEAGUE CARLA DAVIDSON was a newspaperman back in the racy violence of the Front Page days; he was also an accomplished novelist and television writer and a historian of wide interests. But he never could bring himself to care much...
Politics
With American Heritage approaching its fiftieth birthday in December 2004, we've asked five prominent historians and cultural commentators to each pick 10 leading developments in American life in the last half-century. We begin in this issue with Terry...
Transistor Radios: The Buyable Past
NEXT YEAR MARKS THE FIFTIETH anniversary of the transistor radio, which, like the diminutive electronic component it's named for, was invented in America. Using smaller solid-state devices in place of vacuum tubes, transistor radios could be scaled...
"Your Brave and Early Fallen Child ..." How Should a President Honor the War Dead?
SINCE THE BEGINNING of the war in Iraq last year a small tempest has arisen in the media over whether or not George W. Bush should attend the funerals of American servicemen and women killed in the line of duty. As of this writing, Mr. Bush has not...